Pop is becoming increasingly contrived and bland. More and more artists are becoming pop stars just because of their sex appeal or know how to use a bass drop. Then there’s Foxes. Her sophomore record, All I Need, is an emotion packed journey through love and life. The album is packed to the brim with massive pop bangers while still finding time for some stripped back emotional tracks.
You know you’re in for a treat when the intro track of an album gets you so pumped for what’s to come that before you continue, you have to listen to it again. ‘Rise Up (Intro)’ is incredible, building up into a symphonic and atmospheric ascension into this album. The album kicks in with ‘Better Love’, a beautiful track with an amazingly crafted instrumental, and a choir that adds a soulful vibe to the song that compliments the emotion of the song. This song is massive with its anthemic chorus and soaring synths and driving beat. ‘Feet Don’t Fail Me Now’ is another huge anthem, and is a more uplifting song in the sense that it’s about following your dreams. There are some pure feel-good pop tracks on here, too, like ‘Body Talk’ and ‘Lose My Cool’, the latter of which has so much appeal to it. It’s as if it was a Carly Rae Jepsen song and Bruno Mars song had a child together. The song ‘Shoot Me Down’ has a playful and rebellious vibe to it that’ll make you dance.. Slower moments on the album include the breathtaking ‘On My Way’, the closing track on the regular version of the album. It references the track before it, ‘Money’, and tells of recovering form a relationship. ‘Scar’ is another particularly powerful track that has a strong message to it. ‘Amazing’ is an uplifting piano ballad following a sadder one, ‘If You Leave Me Now’, in which Foxes’ vocal performance adds beauty with it’s longing disposition and gorgeous symphony backing it. The last full track on the deluxe version of the record, ‘All I Need’, is almost too good for words. You can’t really describe it; it just has a beautiful, true to heart feel to it that is infectious and makes your heart beat with a longing feeling. It’s truly beautiful.
As much as the structure and vocals add so much character and voice to each song, the instrumentals are also just as important. The album is more of a symphonic pop album, most tracks having a beautiful orchestras behind them. ‘If You Leave Me Now’ has arguably the best orchestra instrumentation on the album, largely consisting of only piano and strings. The bridge has short arpeggios that flow into a huge final chorus that represents the true emotion of fearing losing the one you love. ‘Devil Side’ has a breathtaking string section too, with another strong meaning behind it. The percussion in ‘All I Need’ and ‘Better Love’ has an adverse effect on each song, creating a huge feeling and drives each song. As in every pop record nowadays, the synths play a huge role, and it works in amazing ways on this album. Foxes uses synths as more of a backing rather than a main focus in each track, using the more raw instruments and her voice as the prominent elements of each song. ‘Cruel’ has a cool vocal synth effect, like in CHVRCHES’ ‘The Mother We Share’. There are little tastes of interesting moments, such as the harp ending in ‘Wicked Love’, and the choir sections in ‘Better Love’ and ‘On My Way’ add a lot of color to it, especially in the latter of the two, which helped the song actually bring tears to my eyes (I’m a wuss, I know). The album flows in an interesting way, too. For example, ‘Amazing’ coming after ‘If You Leave Me Now’ has a uplifting piano ballad after a heart-wrenching one. It flows perfectly but also changes the mood of the album completely. The album does well at telling a wide variety of stories in a way that progresses smoothly.
Foxes may have scored the pop album of the year with All I Need. Each song is a wave of emotion washing over your heart. The album is a huge battle with love and life, and how they form a person. It also, admittedly, really reminds me of how much I love my girlfriend. Foxes really let every track come straight from her heart, written beautifully and with consideration. For another pop album to top this one this year will be a huge challenge. Nothing is more beautiful than the raw emotion of love. Except my girlfriend. She’s perfect.
Favorite Tracks: Better Love, On My Way, All I Need, If You Leave Me Now
Least Favorite Tracks: Money